Adobe Creative Cloud

Alternatives to The Creative Cloud 4

Posted on


Today, I’m going to continue my series looking at alternatives to Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription. I do this because not everyone is happy to rent their software on subscription. Personally, I quite like the renting arrangement as it gives me access to the latest versions of Lightroom and Photoshop.

Despite being a big fan of Photoshop, I’m going to share an alternative that is equally as impressive and flexible, yet costs less than Adobe Elements. The software is Affinity Photo from Serif.

Affinity Photo used to be Mac only, but recently launched version 1.5 which is also available on Windows. I believe the regular price for the software is just under £50. When I purchased my copy, there was a 20% discount available which made this an absolute bargain.

Some people refer to Affinity Photo as being a Photoshop Clone. Personally, I don’t think that it’s a clone, it just offers similar tools. If you know how to use these tools in Photoshop you should have no trouble at all using Affinity Photo.

Here are a few of the features that have impressed me:

There is an excellent RAW converter which includes brush and gradient tools for selective adjustments.

Affinity Photo screenshot 1
Screenshot of the RAW Converter

Once you have developed your RAW file you are then able to apply manipulations with the many tools in Affinity. As with Photoshop, Affinity supports the use of adjustment layers and masks. The following screenshot shows just some of the adjustments available.

Affinity Photo screenshot 2
Some of the adjustment tools in Affinity Photo

In the following screenshot, I have applied a black and white conversion filter followed by a Curves adjustment to create an Infrared effect.

Affinity Photo screenshot 3
Example Black & White Conversion

In addition, a great selection of adjustment layers, there is a great range of filters provided. At this point, some of you might be saying but what about special features such as Panoramic blending that are found in Photoshop. If you are, then your also in luck. Look at the following section taken from the File menu in Affinity Photo.

Affinity Photo screenshot 4
Section of the Affinity File manu showing some further tools. Reminds you of Photoshop doesn’t it?

I could go on and on but if you’re interested in a very competent replacement for Photoshop, I would suggest visiting the Serif website and reading up on Affinity Photo. It really is an excellent piece of software.

I’m very much looking forward to the iPad version being released.

Alternatives to the Creative Cloud 3

Posted on


This image has nothing to do with the post, I just like it.

Today I would like to share a further idea about an alternative to the Adobe Creative Cloud that you may not have considered.  Or, perhaps you have considered it but ruled it out for possibly several reasons. That alternative is Adobe Elements.

Now please don’t dismiss this suggestion immediately. Elements is a good package, it’s just that it’s a little limited. It includes a nice organiser which is a cut down version of Bridge. You can use this to easily organise, rate and search for your images. Elements also has sufficient editing tools to produce good results when working with photographs. Best of all, it’s quite easy to use.

What appears to rule Elements out for most photographers is not its features but its limitations. Personally, I would find editing all my images in 8-bits worrying. I would miss the ability to create smart objects and I would cry over the loss of the Curves tool (which I find essential).

But what if you could solve these and other problems? Would you then be interested in using Elements? If you’re thinking ‘maybe’ then you should investigate The Plug-in Site, especially their enhancements for Adobe Elements:

  • ElementsXXL – Adds up to 640 powerful features to Photoshop Elements that were previously only available in Photoshop. These are included as new menu items, icons, buttons, key shortcuts and dialogs, to integrate Elements interface.
  • ActionsXXL – Allows users to create, record, play and save Photoshop actions. ActionsXXL also offers a Batch feature for automatically processing multiple documents or image files with actions, scripts and other features. You can even use actions created in Photoshop.
  • LayersXXL – Adds up to 180 photo and design features to Photoshop Elements that were previously only available in Photoshop. These are all designed to help you work with Layers in Elements.
  • MetaRAW – Extends the functionality of the Adobe Camera Raw plugin in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. It lets you open camera raw files with Adobe Camera Raw, which are normally not supported by it, and allows applying Adobe Camera Raw as a filter to image layers.
  • Filter HUB – A powerful replacement for the Filter menu of Photoshop and Photoshop Elements and offers many advantages over it. It supports built-in filters (from the Filter, Adjustments and Enhance menus), filter plugins and third-party automation plugins.

All of these can be purchased either individually or together in the Elements Bundle for a substantial discount. The only drawback is that most of the products are only available for Windows.

In case you’re wondering, no I don’t get any commission from this. I just like to share good ideas with fellow photographers.

Alternatives to the Creative Cloud 1

Posted on Updated on


Marloes, Pembrokeshire
Marloes, Pembrokeshire. I shot this image in 2009. Had I not added keywords that I could search on in Lightroom, I would have struggled to find it again.

I recently read that Adobe is withdrawing the traditional full purchase option from Lightroom and Photoshop and that only the CC versions would be available. This means you would need to pay a monthly subscription rather than make a one-off payment for a version of the software. Checking the Adobe site just now I can see that only Lightroom and Elements are available as a “traditional” purchase option.

Whilst I subscribe to Creative Cloud and am very happy to do so, I know a lot of people don’t like the subscription model. Given this, it’s my intention to share some alternatives over the coming weeks that you might want to consider if you don’t want to go down the Adobe CC route.

To set some expectations though, I won’t be covering every alternative and I won’t be looking at lots of alternatives in a single blog post. Instead I will be posting from time to time as new ideas come to light. I also won’t be doing a comprehensive review of software, I will leave you to do that with the trial versions that most software companies offer.

In this first blog post I would like to consider just what Creative Cloud provides from the photographer’s perspective. You to determine how important each aspect is to you, as everyone will be different.

Asset Management

This is the ability to tag and sort images as well as perform searches using a variety of criteria. Typically, you would need to be able to search quickly on variables across potentially hundreds of thousands of images to identify the one(s) you want.

This is provided by Lightroom and to some degree Bridge.

RAW Conversion

If you shoot in RAW format, as many photographers do, you will need to convert or develop the RAW file into an image format. This will typically involve applying adjustments to the images as part of the conversion process.

This is provided by Lightroom or in Photoshop through Camera RAW.

Image Adjustment

The ability to enhance or adjust an image. Adjustments may be as simple as changes to colour or tone. In some circumstances, we may need to make more complex changes such as remove an object or change its size, shape or the perspective of the image.

Lightroom provides a level of adjustment capability but in some respects, this can be quite limited. Photoshop is much more flexible and powerful.

Print Output

Creating prints from your images and the ability to go through a Soft Proofing process is in both Lightroom and Photoshop.

Other aspects of CC that might be important to you are things such as are they supported for Mac and Windows. Do you need support for 16 bit editing or even 32 bit editing? Is there full colour management support so you can select a colour space within which to work? Do you need to work in CMYK, RGB or even LAB? How important is overall workflow to you? Some people hate switching between applications and need a level of integration.

If you’re thinking of a move from CC or even just buying more software, I would strongly recommend working on a few images and making notes of the aspects and features you use. You might not realise these are important to you until they are gone.

Next time I will look at one or two possible alternatives to CC.